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Hospital fire

Felix Chaudhary
Wednesday, December 06, 2017

HUNDREDS of patients at the Lautoka Hospital were evacuated in the early hours of yesterday morning after a fire broke out in the old operating theatre building.

Rahul Naidu, a patient in the Men's Medical Ward, said it was one of the most terrifying moments of his life.

"It happened around 1am, we were all asleep when a loud announcement came over the intercom to leave the building," the 27-year-old shared.

"At first, nobody moved because many of us had just woken up.

"After the third announcement, I asked one of the nurses if this was a drill and she told me to quickly exit the building and head to the car park because there was a fire.

"They moved the more serious patients in the lift and that was a real problem because only one out of the three lifts was working.

"We went down to the car park and it was full of patients. Some were on beds and some on mattresses.

"I really felt sorry for the ones that were dependent on oxygen because they did not have portable tanks with them."

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum toured the fire scene yesterday but referred all claims about hospital infrastructure to Health Minister Rosy Akbar.

When contacted, Health Ministry media liaison officer Anshoo Mala Chandra confirmed the minister was due to inspect the hospital yesterday but said she was not giving interviews or allowing photographs.

Krishneel Prasad from Sigatoka was taking care of his father when the fire broke out.

"My father was a patient at the Men's Surgical Ward and we could see the flames from the windows, it was really scary," he said.

"Security guards and nurses were rushing around helping patients to move to the car-park and we are really grateful for their help.

"Patients were screaming and shouting because they had just woken up and did not know what was going on."

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said a joint effort by police, National Fire Authority and Republic of Fiji Military Force resulted in the quick evacuation process where patients were taken to safety as the NFA tried to contain the fire.

She said that as a result of the blaze, the Special Outpatients Clinic, X-ray Department and General Outpatients Clinic were temporarily closed.

"Members of the public are advised to utilise the services of their nearest health centre until they are able to normalise services at the hospital," she said.

"Visitation to patients will also be limited to essential needs and will be strictly monitored for now."

Health Ministry permanent secretary Philip Davies thanked the Lautoka Hospital management and staff for their actions in ensuring the safety of patients and also expressed appreciation for the support provided by other agencies and the local community.

In a statement released yesterday, he called for continued public support for hospital staff and understand there would inevitably be some short-term disruptions to services due to the fire damage.

"Priority will always be given to those whose conditions require urgent care," he said.

Mr Davies said non-emergency medical services could be accessed at Kamikamica Health Centre in Kashmir, Lautoka and Punjas Health Centre in Waiyavi, Lautoka, and arrangements had been made for the health facilities to extend opening hours until 10pm with the deployment of GOPD nurses and doctors to assist with patient flow.








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